Photo credits: Flo Smith
The fourth edition of the King of the Alps did not disappoint. Over 90 athletes battled it out on the Passerio river for their chance to claim the 2015 title. World famous paddler Sam Sutton (NZ) arrived to take on the three time winner Italy’s Michele Ramazza, however both of them missed out on the Top spot. The woman’s category hotted up this year with a record turn out of ladies. Last years winner Caroline Goodall (GB) came to defend her title of Queen but was unable to maintain her rein. The Juniors put in a strong performance earning themselves respectable times and they will definitely be talent to look out for in the future.
The event kicked off with a mass start above a Class IV rapid and the colourful explosion of boats was as action packed as promised, a real favourite with the athletes and spectators, but unfortunately for a few people their race ended there with a swim and a broken paddle.
The women headed off to a solid start showing great confidence down the first rapid. It wasn’t long before the leader emerged, Pavalina Zasterova (CZE) powered her way to the front where she remained for the rest of the race unchallenged by the others. A mighty battle went on for second place with much overtaking, it was close throughout but one wrong line by Natascha Bammert (CH) left her in fourth place. Caroline Goodall (GB) came in second place and Angela Prendin saw her chance and stole away the third place.
The men’s start was fast and furious with so many people on one starting line tensions were high. Finding and keeping a good place was paramount to get off to the best possible start. Knowing your line is one thing, trying to keep it among the masses was another. It was the reigning King Michele Ramazza (ITA) who took the lead followed by local veteran Thomas Waldner (ITA) and Egor Voskoboynikov (RUS). Former Sickline Champion Sam Sutton got off to a slow start remaining blocked in the descending mass, while Mattic Tercelj (SLO) and Mira Kodada (CZE) held on to their strong starting positions.
A constant head to head to head to head went on throughout the entire course but it was the local youngsters who really upped their game, nailing every fast line available with the stamina of a young stallions. Local extreme kayaker Daniel Klotzner after an average start fought his way up the pack biting the old boys on the arse and taking first place, with Michele Rammazza (ITA) managing to hold on to second place and third place went to 19-year old Mattias Weger, also from Merano, who took a break from the slalom poles for the weekend.
The top 20 men then went on to the final in Moos in the Passier. This Class V section starts with a 4m drop, 200m of continuous Class IV, 90° shoot and then the ‘intimidator’, a meaty Class V with the merging of rivers. It certainly makes an impression from the outside and the athletes literately came flying out buzzing!
Racing lines were varied as each one tried to nail the perfect line but the course was not going to be tamed that easily.
Nations represented in the final were Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Chile, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Russia. With the crowds in place the finalists performed a fantastic spectacular to the highest levels, with times getting closer with each round. At the end of the semi-final it was Michele Ramazza (ITA) who held the fastest time on the course.
With three Italians in the final the red, white and green flag was looking promising , but it was not to be. The almighty super talent from Russia Egor Voskoboynikov made a fantastic run and came first, split seconds behind Daniel Klotzner (ITA) and Sam Sutton (NZ) a solid third. The King of the Alps is the person with the highest points from the combined races, so King of the Alps 2015 went to local talent Daniel Klotzner, 2nd Egor Voskoboynikov (RUS) and 3rd Michele Ramazza (ITA).
The event went well on into the night with B.IST Conspiracy, King Slaves, DJ Rayman and the action didn’t stop with a lottery for all participants with some great kit prizes the open races was all go. Anyone who was out of the final six were invited to do 10 Eskimo rolls in the fastest time in the bar side pool. Roland Monthaler (ITA) went home super happy with his winning prize of a new Exo SIX boat for his 18.09 sec effort and Eric Walter(GER) second place with a Kober Waver paddle.
For those who didn’t party all night or who were just real hardcore, trips were run for the day, catering on hand for all levels. Stories were told, suggestions shared, ideas given, and King of the Alps 2016 begins…